As virus cases increase, so do calls for Russians to get the vaccine

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When Russia last year became the first country to launch a coronavirus vaccine, called Sputnik V, it was hailed as a matter of national pride and a sign of its scientific know-how. But since the free immunization program began in December 2020, only about a third of the country’s 146 million people have gotten fully vaccinated. The low vaccine acceptance is of increasing concern as Russia suffers a sharp rise in cases, setting records for infections and deaths nearly every day this month. On Friday, the national coronavirus task force reported 1,064 deaths and more than 37,000 new infections over the past 24 hours, another pandemic high.

“I’m begging all Russians: Please get vaccinated, because it’s really dreadful and dangerous,” said the resident of Nizhny Novgorod, the country’s fifth-largest city. Shigalturina said her 83-year-old grandmother “died right away after catching it. She wasn’t vaccinated.” Coronavirus pandemicCOVID vaccine: CDC expands booster rollout, OKs mixing shotsEXPLAINER: Is it time to get a COVID-19 booster? Which one? What is the ‘delta plus’ variant of the coronavirus?As virus cases rise, so do pleas for Russians to get vaccineADVERTISEMENT

“I can’t understand what’s going on,” President Vladimir Putin said, a rare admission of bewilderment from the steely leader. “We have a reliable and efficient vaccine. The vaccine really reduces the risks of illness, grave complications and death.” At Nizhny Novgorod’s Infectious Hospital No. 23, where the seriously ill patients lie in wards with little space between their beds, Dr. Natalia Soloshenko is battered by the onslaught.

“I can tell you that out of every 50 admitted, only one or two of them are vaccinated,” the chief doctor told The Associated Press. “The whole ICU is full of highly critical patients; all of those patients are unvaccinated.” “To be honest, we’re not even outraged anymore; we just feel sorry for these people,” she said. Nina Pugacheva is still in the hospital, but is one of the lucky ones — she is recovering.

“Tell everyone to get vaccinated,” she said. Soloshenko said widespread misinformation appears to be driving the vaccine hesitancy. “It’s a very sensitive issue, a burning issue for all health care workers. We read what’s on social media and see the most negative information coming from the citizens of our country regarding vaccination,” she said.

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  • As virus cases increase, so do calls for Russians to get the vaccine
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